Woman drives IT at Wesbank

Brian Joss – It has not gone unnoticed how countries led by women have dealt far more effectively with the coronavirus pandemic, the same seems to be true for companies employing women to head up their Information Technology (IT) systems.

An example is the strategic appointment of Gudani Mukatuni as the WesBank Motor Chief Information Officer (CIO), reporting into WesBank CIO Nenzeni Duma. Mukatuni’s focus is on the Motor portfolio of the business. Her appointment acknowledges and is testament to her vast knowledge in the industry in defining and executing IT transformation and digital strategies.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Gudani, with her leadership skills and extensive sector experience, driving the WesBank technology platform. Her passion to enable and transform the organisation through the implementation of digital solutions and using data to make informed business decisions, are central to maintaining and growing our position at the forefront of innovation and customer centricity,” says Ghana Msibi, WesBank Motor CEO.

Having spent more than nine years in the banking and financial services sector, Gudani has acquired valuable insights and experience in implementing data centre infrastructure, systems and applications, data warehouse and digital projects to improve business efficiencies.

“As the CIO for Wesbank Motor, I see my pivotal role as a catalyst to drive business growth through technology and digitisation. IT is central to creating business value, and I am responsible for leading teams that transform the business operations and distribution channels through implementing core IT assets,” says Gudani.

Defining and executing the IT and digital transformation strategy to ensure its alignment with the business priorities across WesBank and the greater FirstRand Group is one of her key deliverables. WesBank is the industry leader in the vehicle and asset financing industry and is widely recognised within the industry for its innovative approach to vehicle financing, launching a number of first-to-market online and digital solutions.

“Having said that, the current marketplace is a tough and competitive environment. New companies are entering the industry with disruptive technologies and without the complexities that legacy systems bring, compared to organisations that have existed for decades. At the same time, digitalisation has brought a new paradigm shift, enabling organisations to operate across myriad channels. Technology has also empowered customers to obtain the services and products they need across devices, at an affordable rate and at any time. My job is to ensure that WesBank remains relevant as the market leader in terms of innovation and customer-centricity through the use of technology,” Gudani outlines.

Prior to joining WesBank, Gudani was Head of IT for AIG Africa for the Middle East-Africa region. She also gained valuable industry experience working for organisations such as Nedbank, Ernst & Young, MTN and SNG, where she was responsible for leading IT teams (both operations and advisory) and aligning IT strategies to derive business value and growth.

So, what defines Gudani? She was born in Limpopo and grew up in various cities around South Africa but spent a large part of her life in  Soweto, Johannesburg. Having completed her matric at Milner High School in Klerksdorp, she studied for a BSc degree in Computer Science and Mathematics at Wits University. Gudani has also completed an MBA through the University of Reading’s Henley Business School in the UK. She is married and has a 14-year old son.

“I have learnt over the years that it is possible to have it all, but not necessarily all at once. My roles at home and work require different priorities. Over the years I have learnt to do my best and accept that not everything should always be perfect. I had to learn how to delegate and trust others to help me – as a leader, I enjoy seeing the people and teams that I lead, grow and succeed. I am fortunate in that I have a good support system from my family members, and I also seek advice from professional and personal coaches to help me focus on what’s important.”

This includes managing and leading in what are historically male-dominated environments – Vehicle Asset Finance and IT. “I have two younger brothers, and my parents raised me to understand that my voice matters and I am equally capable of achieving anything. This upbringing – and the value of staying true to myself – has helped me to navigate predominately male-dominated spaces in the corporate world. I can comfortably sit at the top table confident in the knowledge that I am adding value, without realising that often I am the only female in the room. Many of my line managers and professional mentors have been males and contrary to popular belief, I have always enjoyed their full support in my leadership roles in my career,” states Gudani.

Gudani joined WesBank in February and a few weeks later the country was placed under Lockdown Level 5 to manage the global coronavirus pandemic. The IT team had to move swiftly in terms of decision making to enable the bank’s almost 2,500 employees to work remotely from home with minimal disruption in terms of productivity.

“My many years of work experience in the financial services industry has enabled me to learn and adapt quickly. The key learnings are that one has to be adaptive, resilient, be comfortable with uncertainty and agile to understand the areas were IT can solve business problems and derive real value. The lines between the IT function and other functions within the organisation are blurring as collaboration and co-operation take centre stage. The IT function is no longer an area relegated to a ‘dark corner’ – we have earned our right to occupy a strategic seat at the table to contribute towards the growth and success of the business,” says Gudani.

CAPTION: Gudani Mukatuni, CIO WesBank Motor. Picture: Motorpress

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